Jeremiah 51 - 52
The Utter Destruction of Babylon
Jeremiah 51:1 Thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer
against the inhabitants of Leb-kamai,
2 and I will send to Babylon winnowers,
and they shall winnow her,
and they shall empty her land,
when they come against her from every side
on the day of trouble.
3 Let not the archer bend his bow,
and let him not stand up in his armor.
Spare not her young men;
devote to destruction all her army.
4 They shall fall down slain in the land of the Chaldeans,
and wounded in her streets.
5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
by their God, the Lord of hosts,
but the land of the Chaldeans is full of guilt
against the Holy One of Israel.
6 “Flee from the midst of Babylon;
let every one save his life!
Be not cut off in her punishment,
for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance,
the repayment he is rendering her.
7 Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord's hand,
making all the earth drunken;
the nations drank of her wine;
therefore the nations went mad.
8 Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken;
wail for her!
Take balm for her pain;
perhaps she may be healed.
9 We would have healed Babylon,
but she was not healed.
Forsake her, and let us go
each to his own country,
for her judgment has reached up to heaven
and has been lifted up even to the skies.
10 The Lord has brought about our vindication;
come, let us declare in Zion
the work of the Lord our God.
11 “Sharpen the arrows!
Take up the shields!
12 “Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon;
make the watch strong;
set up watchmen;
prepare the ambushes;
for the Lord has both planned and done
what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon.
13 O you who dwell by many waters,
rich in treasures,
your end has come;
the thread of your life is cut.
14 The Lord of hosts has sworn by himself:
Surely I will fill you with men, as many as locusts,
and they shall raise the shout of victory over you.
15 “It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
16 When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
17 Every man is stupid and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols,
for his images are false,
and there is no breath in them.
18 They are worthless, a work of delusion;
at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
19 Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob,
for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the Lord of hosts is his name.
20 “You are my hammer and weapon of war:
with you I break nations in pieces;
with you I destroy kingdoms;
21 with you I break in pieces the horse and his rider;
with you I break in pieces the chariot and the charioteer;
22 with you I break in pieces man and woman;
with you I break in pieces the old man and the youth;
with you I break in pieces the young man and the young woman;
23 with you I break in pieces the shepherd and his flock;
with you I break in pieces the farmer and his team;
with you I break in pieces governors and commanders.
25 “Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain,
declares the Lord,
which destroys the whole earth;
I will stretch out my hand against you,
and roll you down from the crags,
and make you a burnt mountain.
26 No stone shall be taken from you for a corner
and no stone for a foundation,
but you shall be a perpetual waste,
declares the Lord.
27 “Set up a standard on the earth;
blow the trumpet among the nations;
prepare the nations for war against her;
summon against her the kingdoms,
Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz;
appoint a marshal against her;
bring up horses like bristling locusts.
28 Prepare the nations for war against her,
the kings of the Medes, with their governors and deputies,
and every land under their dominion.
29 The land trembles and writhes in pain,
for the Lord's purposes against Babylon stand,
to make the land of Babylon a desolation,
30 The warriors of Babylon have ceased fighting;
they remain in their strongholds;
their strength has failed;
they have become women;
her dwellings are on fire;
her bars are broken.
31 One runner runs to meet another,
and one messenger to meet another,
to tell the king of Babylon
that his city is taken on every side;
32 the fords have been seized,
the marshes are burned with fire,
and the soldiers are in panic.
33 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:
The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor
at the time when it is trodden;
yet a little while
and the time of her harvest will come.”
34 “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me;
he has crushed me;
he has made me an empty vessel;
he has swallowed me like a monster;
he has filled his stomach with my delicacies;
he has rinsed me out.
35 The violence done to me and to my kinsmen be upon Babylon,”
let the inhabitant of Zion say.
“My blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea,”
let Jerusalem say.
36 Therefore thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will plead your cause
and take vengeance for you.
I will dry up her sea
and make her fountain dry,
37 and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins,
the haunt of jackals,
a horror and a hissing,
38 “They shall roar together like lions;
they shall growl like lions' cubs.
39 While they are inflamed I will prepare them a feast
and make them drunk, that they may become merry,
then sleep a perpetual sleep
and not wake, declares the Lord.
40 I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter,
like rams and male goats.
41 “How Babylon is taken,
the praise of the whole earth seized!
How Babylon has become
a horror among the nations!
42 The sea has come up on Babylon;
she is covered with its tumultuous waves.
43 Her cities have become a horror,
a land of drought and a desert,
a land in which no one dwells,
and through which no son of man passes.
44 And I will punish Bel in Babylon,
and take out of his mouth what he has swallowed.
The nations shall no longer flow to him;
the wall of Babylon has fallen.
45 “Go out of the midst of her, my people!
Let every one save his life
from the fierce anger of the Lord!
46 Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful
at the report heard in the land,
when a report comes in one year
and afterward a report in another year,
and violence is in the land,
and ruler is against ruler.
47 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming
when I will punish the images of Babylon;
her whole land shall be put to shame,
and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.
48 Then the heavens and the earth,
and all that is in them,
shall sing for joy over Babylon,
for the destroyers shall come against them out of the north,
declares the Lord.
49 Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel,
just as for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the earth.
50 “You who have escaped from the sword,
go, do not stand still!
Remember the Lord from far away,
and let Jerusalem come into your mind:
51 ‘We are put to shame, for we have heard reproach;
dishonor has covered our face,
for foreigners have come
into the holy places of the Lord's house.’
52 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will execute judgment upon her images,
and through all her land
the wounded shall groan.
53 Though Babylon should mount up to heaven,
and though she should fortify her strong height,
yet destroyers would come from me against her,
declares the Lord.
54 “A voice! A cry from Babylon!
The noise of great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans!
55 For the Lord is laying Babylon waste
and stilling her mighty voice.
Their waves roar like many waters;
the noise of their voice is raised,
56 for a destroyer has come upon her,
her warriors are taken;
their bows are broken in pieces,
for the Lord is a God of recompense;
he will surely repay.
57 I will make drunk her officials and her wise men,
her governors, her commanders, and her warriors;
they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake,
declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.
58 “Thus says the Lord of hosts:
The broad wall of Babylon
shall be leveled to the ground,
and her high gates
shall be burned with fire.
The peoples labor for nothing,
and the nations weary themselves only for fire.”
Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.
The Fall of Jerusalem RecountedJeremiah 52:1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 2 And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. 3 For because of the anger of the Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.
And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. 4 And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it. 5 So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. 6 On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. 7 Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled and went out from the city by night by the way of a gate between the two walls, by the king's garden, and the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah. 8 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him. 9 Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he passed sentence on him. 10 The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and also slaughtered all the officials of Judah at Riblah. 11 He put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in chains, and the king of Babylon took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.
The Temple Burned12 In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month — that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon — Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard, who served the king of Babylon, entered Jerusalem. 13 And he burned the house of the Lord, and the king's house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. 14 And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. 15 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive some of the poorest of the people and the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the artisans. 16 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.
17 And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the Lord, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried all the bronze to Babylon. 18 And they took away the pots and the shovels and the snuffers and the basins and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service; 19 also the small bowls and the fire pans and the basins and the pots and the lampstands and the dishes for incense and the bowls for drink offerings. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver. 20 As for the two pillars, the one sea, the twelve bronze bulls that were under the sea, and the stands, which Solomon the king had made for the house of the Lord, the bronze of all these things was beyond weight. 21 As for the pillars, the height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, its circumference was twelve cubits, and its thickness was four fingers, and it was hollow. 22 On it was a capital of bronze. The height of the one capital was five cubits. A network and pomegranates, all of bronze, were around the capital. And the second pillar had the same, with pomegranates. 23 There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates were a hundred upon the network all around.
The People Exiled to Babylon24 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the threshold; 25 and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and seven men of the king's council, who were found in the city; and the secretary of the commander of the army, who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land, who were found in the midst of the city. 26 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 And the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.
28 This is the number of the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year, 3,023 Judeans; 29 in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem 832 persons; 30 in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Judeans 745 persons; all the persons were 4,600.
A more recent work on the later history of Judah has come out under the name of D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of the Chaldean Kings in the British Museum (1956), pp. 29–31, 70–71. The tablets published in this work give a series of precise dates between 626 and 566 B.C. They indicate that Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, was officially crowned November 23, 626, after defeating the Assyrian army at Babylonia. Asshuruballit II, who assumed the Assyrian throne after the fall of Nineveh in 612, was compelled to abandon his defenses in Haran in the year 610. The battle of Megiddo, at which Josiah perished, took place in 609, and in the same year or the following year, 608, Jehoiakim began his reign under the sponsorship of Necho, then shifted allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar after the battle of Carchemish and died in 598 in a state of rebellion against him. The epoch-making battle of Carchemish, in which Nebuchadnezzar defeated the allied armies of Egypt and Assyria, took place in May or June of 605. Nabopolassar died on August 16, 605, and on September 7 Nebuchadnezzar was crowned in Babylon as his successor. In 601 the Babylonian armies were temporarily checked by the Egyptians on the Egyptian border after a fierce battle. (This fact, not previously known, helps to explain why Jehoiakim dared to risk rebellion against Babylon in the last years of his reign.) Jerusalem capitulated to Nebuchadnezzar the first time on March 15 or 16, 597. In that same month Zedekiah received his appointment as king. Last of all, Jerusalem fell in July, 587, during Nebuchadnezzar’s third invasion.
These tablets clear up one discrepancy between 2 Kings 24:12, which dates the 597 capture of Jerusalem as the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar, and Jer. 52:28, which dates it as occurring in his seventh year. It is apparent that at the battle of Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar was in sole command of the Chaldean troops, and may well have been recognized in the west as de facto king already; hence the Jewish historian of 2 Kings regarded 605 or 604 as his first regnal year. But in Babylon, which used the accession-year system, his reign did not officially begin until 604 or 603. Apparently Jeremiah followed the official Babylonian reckoning in this instance. --- A Survey of Old Testament Introduction
Jehoiachin Released from Prison31 And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. 32 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king's table, 34 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, until the day of his death, as long as he lived.
What I'm Reading
Thanks be unto God (Prayer)
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
O LORD God, help us now really to worship Thee. We would thank Thee for this occasion. We bless Thy name for setting- apart this hallowed season. Lord, wilt Thou shut the door upon the world for us ? Help us to forget our cares. Enable us to rise clean out of this world. May we get rid of all its down-dragging tendencies. May the attractions of these grosser things be gone, and do Thou catch us away to Thyself.
We do not ask to be entranced nor to see an angel in shining- apparel, but we do ask that by faith we may see Jesus, and may His presence be so evidently realized among us that we may rejoice as well as if our eyes beheld Him, and love Him and trust Him and worship Him as earnestly as we should do if we could now put our fingers into the print of the nails.
O, Thou precious Lord Jesus Christ, we do adore Thee with all our hearts. Thou art Lord of all. We bless Thee for becoming man that Thou mightest be our next of kin, and being next of kin we bless Thee for taking us into marriage union with Thyself and for redeeming us and our inheritance from the captivity into which we were sold. Thou hast paid Thy life for Thy people ; Thou hast ransomed Thy folk with Thy heart's blood. Be Thou, therefore, for ever beloved and adored.
And now Thou art not here for Thou art risen. Our souls would track the shining way by which Thou hast ascended through the gate of pearl up to Thy Father's throne. We seem to see Thee sitting there, man, yet God, reigning over all things for Thy people, and our ears almost catch the accents of the everlasting song which rolls up at Thy feet: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive honour, and power, and glory, and dominion, and might for ever and ever." Lord, we say, "Amen." From the outskirts of the crowd that surround Thy throne we lift up our feeble voices in earnest "Amens," for Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood and hast made us kings and priests unto God, and we shall reign with Thee, for though far off by space, we know that we are very near to Thy heart.
Thou lookest over the heads of the angelic squadrons to behold us, and Thou dost hear the praises—aye, and the groans of Thy well-beloved, for are not we most near Thee, Thy flesh and Thy bones? We know we are. We feel the ties of kinship within us. We our best Beloved's are, and He is ours, and we are longing to get through the crowd that surround Him, and to get to the forefront, and there to bow prostrate at the dear feet that were nailed to the tree for us, and worship the Lamb who liveth for ever and ever, Who has prevailed to take the book and loose the seven seals thereof, to Whom be glory, world without end. Hallelujah !
O, Saviour, accept these our poor praises. They come from those Thou lovest, and as we prize any little things that come from those we love, so do we feel that Thou wilt accept the thanksg-iving, the reverential homage of Thy people, redeemed ones who are a people near unto Thee, whose names are graven on the palms of Thy hands, of whom Thou art the active head and for whom Thy heart beats true and full of love e'en now.
Oh, we can say we love Thee ; we wish we loved Thee more ; but Thou art very dear to us. There is nought on earth like Thee. For the love of Thy name we would live and die. If we think we love Thee more than we do, we pray that we may yet love Thee more than we think. Oh, take these hearts right away and unite them with Thine own, and be Thou heart and soul and life and everything to us ; for whom have we in heaven but Thee, and there is none upon earth we desire beside Thee.
We worship the Father, we worship the Son, we worship the Holy Ghost with all the powers of our being. We fall prostrate before the awful yet glorious throne of the Infinite Majesty of heaven. The Lord accept us since we offer these praises in the name of Jesus.
And now most blessed Lord, look down upon those who do not love Thee. O Redeemer, look upon them with those eyes of Thine which are as flames of fire. Let them see how ill they treat Thee. May they consider within themselves how dire is the ingratitude which can be negligent of a Saviour's blood, indifferent from a Saviour's heart. Oh, bring the careless and the godless to seek for mercy. Let those that are postponing serious things begin to see that the very thought of post ponement of the claims of Christ is treason against His Majesty. O Saviour, dart Thine arrows abroad and let them wound many that they may fall down before thee and cry out for mercy.
But there are some who are wounded ; broken hearts that seek peace—men and women, like Cornelius, that want to hear the words which God commands.
Oh, come Divine Physician, and bind up every broken bone. Come with Thy sacred nard which Thou hast compounded of Thine own heart's blood, and lay it home to the wounded conscience, and let it feel its power. Oh ! give peace to those whose conscience is like the troubled sea which cannot rest.
O God, our God, let not the teaching of the Sunday-school, the preaching of the Evangelists, the personal visitations of individual minds, let not any of these efforts be in vain. Do give conversions. We groan out this prayer from our very heart, yet can we also sing it, for Thou hast heard us plenteously already, and our heart doth rejoice in God the Saviour who worketh so graciously among the children of men.
We have been astonished as the Holy Ghost has fallen even upon the chief of sinners, and men afar off from God have been brought in. But, Lord, do more of this among us. Let us see greater things than these. Where we have had one saved, let us have an hundred to the praise of the glorious name and the Well-beloved.
Lord keep us all from sin ; teach us how to walk circumspectly; enable us to guard our minds against error of doctrine, our hearts against wrong feelings, and our lives against evil actions. Oh, may we never speak unadvisedly with our lips, nor give way to anger. Above all, keep us from covetousness which is idolatry, and from malice which is of the devil. Grant unto us to be full of sweetness and light. May love dwell in us and reign in us. May we look not every man on his own things, but every man on the things of others. Give us to live for Jesus. There is no life like it. Help us to be Christly men, Christ's men, and may we in all things reflect the light which we receive from Him.
Bless our beloved Church and all its organizations. O God, take care of it. Oh! do thou make every member of the Church a pastor over others. Let all strive together for the good of all, and so may Thy kingdom come among us.
And do Thou prosper all the churches of Jesus Christ. What we ask for ourselves we seek for them. Let missionaries especially be helped by Thy Spirit, and may there come a day in which the minds of men may be better prepared to receive the Gospel, and may Messiah's Kingdom come to the overthrow of her that sitteth on the Seven Hills and to the eternal waning of Mohammed's moon, to the overthrow of every idol, that Christ alone may reign. Our whole heart comes out in this. Reign, Immanuel, reign ; sit on the high throne ; ride on Thy White Horse ; and let the armies of heaven follow thee, conquering and to conquer. Come, Lord Jesus ; even so, come quickly. Amen and amen.
Think Hard, Stay Humble: The Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride
By Francis Chan 10/2/2010
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:1–3)
I don’t know if there is a more appropriate passage for us to turn to at this point in the book than 1 Corinthians 8:1–3. It is a passage directed toward those whose have their facts right but hearts wrong. Here Paul addresses the intelligent but unloving.
It has been wonderful and challenging for me to study this passage. Meditating on 1 Corinthians 8:1–3 caused me to realize how many statements I make each day that are not motivated by love. It has caused me to pray that God would remind me to love each person I encounter and to seek to build up each individual with my words.
Do I Genuinely Love? | Years ago, a friend of mine asked me how I prepared to preach. I told him how I pictured God in the room and that I would tell him that I wanted to please him alone. I then asked my friend how he would prepare. He told me how he would look at the crowd and pray, “God, you know how I love these people. Give me the right words to bring them closer to you.
He then explained that there are other times that he would have to pray, “Father, I don’t love these people like I should. Give me a greater love for them.” It is sad that I had been preaching for years, I realized then, without thinking about really loving the people to whom I preached.
Click here to go to source
- 1 Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
- 2 You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
- 3 Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
- 4 Living Crazy Love: An Interactive Workbook for Individual or Small-Group Study
- 5 Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples
- 6 Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up
- 7 The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village
- 8 Halfway Herbert
The Bible is God's Word: The Proof and Evidence
By Mike Robinson 5/24/2017
[The New Atheists] are not open or willing to go where the evidence leads, unless that evidence sustains their own naturalistic assumptions. They have covertly reduced all philosophical thought and deduction to--ironically—faith! (Ravi Zacharias).
I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book (Abraham Lincoln).
Often skeptics argue that the Bible was written many years after the events it records, thus it was corrupted over time. Abrasive atheist Sam Harris notified the world that “the Gospels are ancient fiction.” But papyrus expert Peter Thiede has demonstrated that a copy of the Gospel of Luke, housed in a French museum, is dated approximately 50 AD. Thiede has also determined that the Magdalyn Manuscript of the Book of Matthew is dated circa 40-50 AD. And finally, Thiede has dated a copy of the Gospel written by Mark to be from about 50 AD.
The age of the Gospels demonstrates that there was not enough time between the events and their transcription for the Bible to be tainted or altered in the manner the critics allege. Ramm acknowledged, “Divine inspiration of the Bible is the only adequate hypothesis to account for the Bible.”
Your religious beliefs typically depend on the community in which you were raised or live. The spiritual experiences of people in ancient Greece, medieval Japan or 21st-century Saudi Arabia do not lead to belief in Christianity. It seems, therefore, that religious belief very likely tracks not truth but social conditioning (Gary Gutting).
CAA author Mike A. Robinson utilizes recent research in Christian apologetics, philosophy, and biblical truth as he provides books that make an impact on average people. These high-impact works train you to evangelize atheists, cult members, false religionists and agnostics. The deep intellectual truths that modern and ancient Christian scholars and philosophers have produced are formatted in simple and easy-to-follow steps. This fresh approach makes it real and assists you to be an effective witness in your personal evangelism to the followers of Richard Dawkins, Joseph Smith, the Watchtower, Buddha, Islam, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, other anti-theists and cultists.
Mike Robinson Books:
- 1 God Does Exist!: Defending the faith using presuppositional apologetics, evidence, and the impossibility of the contrary
- 2 Killing Christ: Contesting Trendy Critics Regarding The Death and Resurrection of Jesus (Historical Apologetics Book 1)
- 3 There Are Moral Absolutes: How to Be Absolutely Sure That Christianity Alone Supplies The Conditions For Moral Certainty Through Presuppositional Apologetics
- 4 Killing Jesus Christ: Engaging The Critics Regarding The Truth of The Death of Christ
- 5 The Necessary Existence of God: The Proof of Christianity Through Presuppositional Apologetics
- 6 Lying: The Case Against Deception
- 7 Truth, Knowledge and the Reason for God: The Defense of the Rational Assurance of Christianity
- 8 One Way to God: Christian Philosophy and Presuppositional Apologetics Examine World Religions
- 9 Letter to an Atheist Nation: Presupositional Apologetics Responds To: Letter to a Christian
- 10 Presuppositional Apologetics Examines Mormonism: How Van Til's Apologetic Refutes Mormon Theology
The Cross Is Everything!
By Malcolm Yarnell 6/14/2017
The following was written in support of the great works being done by all at the convention, on the floor and on the platform. I am proud of our Resolutions Committee and of our messengers, real proud, and I stand fully behind the resolutions, including the upcoming Resolution on Alt-Right White Supremacy:
While I skipped the Southern Baptist Convention in order to polish an overdue essay responding to my recently deceased friend, the Reformed theologian John Webster, my heart has been unable to escape the profound events occurring in Phoenix, Arizona. So many of my living friends and colleagues in ministry are there, and I have watched them with love and concern, exchanging messages with good people who are under both public and personal pressure to do well. With the incredible responsibilities placed on their shoulders, I want them to know they are doing well in spite of the heartache and disappointment all around. The churches of the Southern Baptist Convention are working together slowly but carefully toward the future that God has planned for them. And the men leading the way are in a pressure cooker, and it hurts.
I have one word of advice to the leaders of the SBC and to every convention messenger and every spectator. It is an idea that could be taken contritely as a mere mantra were it not central to everything occurring this year: The Cross is at the center of everything the SBC is doing. But we may be somewhat oblivious to it. Some have glibly dismissed the resolution on the atonement that Owen Strachan and I offered as so much window dressing, but that is utterly wrongheaded. The Cross of Jesus Christ is at the center of everything that the SBC is doing this year. The Cross makes sense of the other significant resolutions, such as the ones on the Alt-Right and on Planned Parenthood. The Cross makes sense of the mission board reports and of Steve Gaines’s proposed task force. The Cross is everything!
As Leon Morris and John Stott demonstrated years ago, the Cross of Jesus Christ provides the meaning of the biblical text. The Cross is both center and circumference; it is both pervasive and without parallel; it is both paradigmatic and problematic. Open any New Testament book and before long, the Cross will dominate the discussion. For Paul, a highly educated Biblicist with pristine religious credentials, the Cross which was earlier a scandal to him subsequently became so big that he could see nothing else. In Galatians 6:14f, he stated,
But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation (Christian Standard Bible).
Malcolm B. Yarnell III was born in upstate New York, grew up in numerous North and Central American subcultures, and became a Southern Baptist minister, holding church pastorates in Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. After receiving degrees from Louisiana State University (BS-Finance), Southwestern Seminary (MDivBL), Duke University (ThM), and the University of Oxford (DPhil), he served as a faculty member at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and academic dean at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
Yarnell is a prolific author. His latest book, God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits, was published by B&H Academic in April 2016. His most widely reviewed volume, on historical and theological method, is The Formation of Christian Doctrine (2007). He is also the author of Royal Priesthood in the English Reformation, released by Oxford University Press in 2014, and The Anabaptists and Contemporary Baptists, a Festschrift honoring Paige Patterson, released in 2013. Yarnell has contributed over 100 essays to academic journals and books published in America, England, France, and Nigeria, as well as in more popular venues. He was also the longest-serving editor of the nearly century-old Southwestern Journal of Theology, and has edited four academic books. His next two monographs are provisionally entitled Popular Theology and The Image of the Trinity, the latter of which will serve as the third volume in his Systematic Theology.
While traveling to lecture in universities worldwide (including in recent years, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Kenya, Russia, Scotland, and the Ukraine), Yarnell is a fellow in research institutes and a member of editorial boards in Fort Worth, Nashville, New Orleans, Oxford, and Bonn. He has been involved for over a decade in a series of Evangelical-Catholic Theological Conversations in St. Paul, Minnesota, and formerly served as a leading member of the Baptist World Alliance-Anglican Communion Theological Conversations. He has served as a trustee for the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Wroclaw, Poland for the last five years.
Malcolm currently resides with his family of seven in Fort Worth, Texas, where he is Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Seminary. His weekly passion is to lead the Sunday morning Men's Bible Study at Birchman Baptist Church. He preaches the gospel regularly in churches and conferences, and has recently led church conferences in the Cayman Islands, England, France, and Germany.
Malcolm Yarnell Books:
By John Walvoord
The Fifth Vision: The Gold Lampstand and Two Olive Trees
Zechariah 4:1–14. After the previous vision, the Angel of the Lord apparently woke Zechariah and asked him what he saw.
Zechariah answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left” (vv. 2–3 ). The exact form of the lampstand was not indicated, but it probably was similar to the lampstands used in the tabernacle and the temple. Here, however, were unusual features. A bowl above the lampstand apparently held olive oil, and there were seven channels or pipes to each of the seven lights, making forty-nine channels in all, obviously an abundant provision for the flow of oil.
Zechariah asked a question concerning the two olive trees. The answer was not immediately given, but the Lord informed Zerubbabel that the main feature of this revelation was “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (v. 6 ). The revelation was that only God’s power can accomplish God’s purposes as indicated by the olive oil, which represented the Holy Spirit. Because the bowl containing the olive oil was connected to the two olive trees, there was a constant flow of oil in abundance for the seven lamps. The fact that the revelation was directed to Zerubbabel indicated recognition of him as the governor of Judah and God’s instrument to fulfill God’s goal of rebuilding the temple. In verse 7 it was declared that the “mighty mountain” would become level ground before Zerubbabel, indicating that all obstacles can be overcome by the power of God.
The word of the Lord came to Zechariah: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you” (vv. 8–9 ). The building of the temple, for which Zerubbabel laid the foundation and brought out the plumb line (vv. 9–10 ), would cause those who observed to rejoice, as it symbolized God working once again and blessing His ancient people. A parenthetical thought was introduced in verse 10 with the seven eyes of God, “which range throughout the earth,” speaking as in 3:9 of God’s omniscience in seeing all things and all events.
Because the previous question of 4:4 was not answered concerning the two olive trees, Zechariah asked the angel again, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?” (v. 11 ). He also wanted to know about two olive branches and two gold pipes. The answer was given in verse 14: “These are the two who are anointed to serve the LORD of all the earth.” Taken as a whole, the lampstand represented Israel as a light to the world; the two olive trees represented Joshua and Zerubbabel, who together signify both priest and king as portrayed in Christ in His second coming. All of this encouraged the returning captives to rebuild the temple. The abiding truth for all was that what was accomplished for God needed to be accomplished in the power of the Spirit.
The Sixth Vision: The Flying Scroll
Zechariah 5:1–4. In the previous visions the emphasis was on the divine grace revealed in God’s forgiveness and plan to restore Israel as well as His power to accomplish the rebuilding of the temple for the returning captives. The sixth vision had to do with condemnation of sin. Zechariah saw a huge scroll, thirty by fifteen feet, flying through the air. This was interpreted to Zechariah as “the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished” (v. 3 ). The vision as a whole portrayed the fact that God would and will judge sin — in part fulfilled in Israel’s experience at the time, and to be completely fulfilled in the millennial kingdom, when every sin will be judged and God’s grace will be made manifest.
The Seventh Vision: The Measuring Basket and the Women
Zechariah 5:5–11. The Angel asked Zechariah to tell what he saw: “He replied, ‘It is a measuring basket,’ And he added, ‘This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land’” (v. 6 ). The measuring basket was used for dry measure by the Jews and would contain five to ten gallons of contents. In the vision, however, the basket was enlarged in order to fulfill the description of the verses that follow. The basket, said to represent the wickedness of the people, had its lead cover raised, revealing a woman sitting in the basket (v. 7 ). The woman was wickedness personified in the vision, and the Angel of the Lord continued her confinement by pushing the lead cover down (v. 8 ).
In the vision Zechariah next saw two other women with large wings, who carried off the basket (v. 9 ). Zechariah asked, “Where are they taking the basket?” (v. 10 ). The Angel replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place” (v. 11 ). Because Babylon was uniformly represented in Scripture as the source of much evil, the return of the basket and the woman in the basket symbolized that evil would be removed from Israel and returned to Babylon, where it would become part of their apostate religious system. The language indicating that the basket would be set in a place in the house probably means that it would be an object of worship as an idol in Babylon.
In the ultimate preparation of the world for the second coming of Christ, Babylon will be judged ( Rev. 17–18 ), and its judgment will be a preliminary step for the revival of Israel and the arrival of the righteous kingdom of Christ in His second coming ( Rev. 19–20 ).
The Eighth Vision: The Four Chariots
Zechariah 6:1–8. In the first vision horses were seen going throughout the world to describe the scene in the world. In Zechariah 6 they were represented as four chariots coming out from between two bronze mountains (v. 1 ). When Zechariah asked what this meant, the Angel stated, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south” (vv. 5–6 ).
Some believe the different colored horses had spiritual significance, with black referring to death and famine, red symbolizing war, and the dappled indicating pestilence and plagues. The white horse may have symbolized the invincible power of God as in the second coming of Christ ( Rev. 19 ). The two bronze mountains from which the four horses came ( Zech. 6:1 ) indicated divine judgment against sin, usually associated with bronze ( Rev. 1:15; 2:18 ).
The fact that the horses went north may have indicated the former invasions of Israel by Babylon. The south seemed to represent the invasions of Egypt, which also affected Israel’s history. Some interpret the horses toward the west in a different translation: “The one with white horses after them.” In other words, the white horse would follow the black horse to the north, leaving the two major directions of Israel’s conquest in the north and the south in view. As a result of God’s action on these countries, the Spirit would have rest in the land in the north ( Zech. 6:8 ). The meaning may be that, after divine judgments indicated in previous visions, evil will have been judged and righteousness will be introduced, as it will be primarily in the future millennial kingdom on earth.
The eight visions as a whole represented God’s power and the certainty of the fulfillment of His promises for Israel, both in blessing and in judgment. The visions were intended to give Israel reassurance that she was operating under God’s power and direction as she built the temple of God.
The Crowning of Joshua
Zechariah 6:9–15. In a final revelation bringing together the eight visions, Zechariah was instructed to take silver and gold from three exiles — Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah — and with the silver and gold make a crown to be set on the head of the high priest Joshua, the son of Jehozadak (vv. 9–11 ).
The fact that Joshua the high priest was crowned rather than Zerubbabel, the governor, indicated that God was guarding against the idea that Zerubbabel was the fulfillment of God’s promise for the descendant of David to sit on a throne.
In the crowning, Joshua was taken as Israel’s representative of the coming Messiah. The prophecy was given: “Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two” (vv. 12–13 ).
As Joshua had a relatively minor role in the rebuilding of the temple, the fulfillment must go on to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, in His second coming when He will fulfill the prophecy completely and be both King ( Isa. 9:7; Jer. 23:5; Mic. 4:3, 7; Zeph. 3:15; Zech. 14:9 ) and Priest ( Heb. 4:15; 5:6; 7:11–21 ). A priest of the Levitical order could not sit on a throne and reign, but Christ will be both King and Priest and will combine the two offices in His person and work.
In the situation of the rebuilding of the temple, the crown was given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen to be a memorial in the temple when it was built. The vision closed with a promise that there would come help from many corners of the world to assist in the building of the temple ( Zech. 6:15 ). Taken as a whole, the visions were reassuring to the people of Israel that they were in the will of God in building the temple and at the same time that God had in mind the ultimate restoration of Israel, which is still to come and which will be fulfilled in the millennium.
The Question about Fasting
Zechariah 7:1–3. In the early part of the Babylonian captivity, the Jews had inserted a ceremony of fasting in the fifth month in order to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. The people of Bethel, a town twelve miles north of Jerusalem, asked the priests in the house of the Lord whether they should continue this fast. The fast had been of human invention and not commanded by God and accordingly illustrated how ritual and ceremonial rites can take place without having real meaning.
The answer to the question was given in four messages that follow in 7:4–8:23.
The First Message
Zechariah 7:4–7. In the first message God asked the question “Was it really for me that you fasted?” (v. 5 ). The implication was that it was a mere ceremony without any real meaning. Accordingly, God rebuked them for their formalism. Though they had asked about the fast in the fifth month, they had actually also observed a fast in the seventh month ( Lev. 16:29, 31; 23:26–32 ). The fast in the seventh month was in commemoration of the murder of Gedaliah, governor of Judea, connected with the fall of Jerusalem ( Jer. 41:2 ). Their feast in the seventh month, like the one in the fifth month, was not divinely instituted and did not relate to the fast that they should have observed on the Day of Atonement.
The Second Message
Zechariah 7:8–14. In the second message their hardness of heart and not listening to the word of God served to prove that their feasts were not observed in the right spirit. When God told them not to oppress the widow and the alien and the fatherless, they refused: “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the Law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry” (vv. 11–12 ). The result was that God would not hear their prayers when they called, and the land was left desolate (vv. 13–14 ).
The Third Message
Zechariah 8:1–17. The third message from God assured Israel of her ultimate restoration in fulfillment of God’s purpose. The promise of restoration went far beyond the immediate future for Israel and looked forward to the millennial kingdom following the second coming of Christ. God revealed to them, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain’” (v. 3 ). In stating that God would return to Zion, he was referring to the name given the temple site in Jerusalem, though originally it referred to a fortress that David conquered in southwest Jerusalem. Accordingly, Zion was a synonym for Jerusalem ( Ps. 2:6; Isa. 2:3; 4:3; 8:18; 33:20; Joel 2:1; Amos 1:2; Mic. 3:10, 12 ). Zechariah referred to Zion as Jerusalem frequently ( Zech. 1:14, 17; 8:3; 9:9 ).
God promised that Jerusalem would be safe for older people as well as children in the future golden age ( 8:4 ). What seemed marvelous to the people at the present time (v. 6 ) would be eclipsed by God’s larger purpose to bring Israel back to her land: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God’” (vv. 7–8 ). In view of God’s ultimate purpose to bless Israel, they were encouraged to rebuild the temple (vv. 9–11 ). God would bless their crops and have the land bring forth abundantly (vv. 12–13 ). As God had brought them into judgment earlier; now He would pour out on them His blessings (v. 15 ). In order to receive blessings, however, they should speak the truth and live honorably before God and man (vv. 15–16 ).
The Fourth Message
Zechariah 8:18–23. The fourth message gave the final answer to their question about fasts: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace’” (vv. 18–19 ). In other words, their observance of fasts would have real meaning and be acceptable before God.
In further encouragement of the people of Israel, God promised that Jerusalem would be a great world city: “And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him” (v. 22 ). In that day it will be recognized that the Jew is blessed of God, and people of other languages and nations will want to be associated with them (v. 23; 14:16–19; Isa. 2:3 ). This will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom.
The four messages considered together were on the one hand a rebuke for ceremony without meaning and on the other hand an encouragement to them in their rebuilding of the temple as well as in their hope for ultimate restoration and spiritual blessing on the people of Israel in the future kingdom.
The Coming Judgment on the Nations Surrounding Israel
Zechariah 9:1–8. In contrast to the ultimate blessing of God on the people of Israel was the prediction of judgment on the nations and cities surrounding Israel (vv. 1–8 ). The future judgments included those on Damascus, the land of Hadrach (v. 1 ), Hamath, and Tyre and Sidon (v. 2 ). Though Tyre was a stronghold with great wealth, the Lord would take away her possessions and destroy her (vv. 3–4 ). Likewise He would deal with the major cities of the Philistines, such as Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron. God declared, “Gaza will lose her king and Ashkelon will be deserted” (v. 5 ). Foreigners would occupy Ashdod and conquer the Philistines (vv. 6–7 ).
Many of these prophecies were literally fulfilled when the Holy Land was invaded by Alexander the Great after he won the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. Though Alexander was the instrument, the result was the destruction of the cities that had oppressed Israel. Tyre in particular was subdued in a five-month siege and destroyed.
In the same period the armies of Alexander bypassed the city of Jerusalem without destroying it, a fulfillment of God’s protection of the city. These judgments and the protection of Jerusalem in this situation in the fourth century BC foreshadowed the ultimate protection of Israel and Jerusalem in the millennial kingdom.
The Coming Deliverance of the Messiah
Zechariah 9:9–17. In contrast to the destruction of the enemies of Israel, Jerusalem would be blessed when her Messiah came. A particular prophecy was given concerning Christ entering Jerusalem in the triumphant procession: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (v. 9 ). The announcement related to the first coming of Christ ( Isa. 9:5–7; Mic. 5:2–4; Luke 1:32–33 ). His righteous character is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments ( Ps. 45:6–7; Isa. 11:1–5; 32:17; Jer. 23:5–6; 33:15–16 ). He would and yet will come as a Deliverer having salvation, both in the sense of providing personal salvation for those who put their trust in Him and ultimately in delivering Israel from their enemies. The prophecy particularly described Christ in His first coming as “gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” ( Zech. 9:9 ). This was literally fulfilled as recorded in Matthew 21.
The prophecies that followed blended the first and second comings of Christ as if they were one event ( Isa. 9:6–7; 61:1–2; Luke 4:18–21 ). The prophetic vision extended to the future kingdom on earth: “I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” ( Zech. 9:10 ). This was not accomplished in His first coming but will be accomplished in His second coming. The millennial kingdom will be characterized as a time of peace ( Isa. 2:4; Mic. 4:3 ). The nation Israel will occupy the land originally promised to Abram—from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates. The rest of the world will come under the rule of Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
In referring to “the blood of my covenant with you” (v. 11 ), the prophecy indicated the absolute certainty of the fulfillment of the covenant concerning the land sealed with blood ( Gen. 15:7–17 ). The prisoners or captives in Babylon will return to the fortress — that is, Jerusalem, where God will bless them ( Zech. 9:12–13 ). Some interpreters consider verse 13 a reference to the Maccabean period ( 169–135 BC ), when the children of Israel were oppressed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (cf. Dan. 11:32 ). Ultimately, they won the victory, cleansed their temple, and restored their worship. In picturesque language God was described as their ultimate leader who causes them to conquer their enemies ( Zech. 9:14–17 ).
A Scientist Discovers God
By Lee Strobel 7/10/2017
Allan Rex Sandage, the greatest observational cosmologist in the world — who deciphered the secrets of the stars, plumbed the mysteries of quasars, revealed the age of globular clusters, pinpointed the distances of remote galaxies, and quantified the universe’s expansion through his work at the Mount Wilson and Palomar observatories — prepared to step onto the conference platform.
Few scientists were as widely respected as this one-time protégé of legendary astronomer Edwin Hubble. Sandage had been showered with prestigious honors from the American Astronomical Society, the Swiss Physical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Swedish Academy of Sciences, receiving astronomy’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. The New York Times dubbed him the “grand old man of cosmology.”
As he approached the stage at this conference on science and religion, there was little doubt where he would sit. The discussion would be about the origin of the universe, and the panel would be divided among those scientists who believed in God and those who didn’t, with each faction sitting on its own side of the stage. Many of the attenders probably knew the ethnically Jewish Sandage had been a virtual atheist even as a child. Others undoubtedly believed that a scientist of his stature must surely be skeptical about God. As Newsweek put it, “The more deeply scientists see into the secrets of the universe, you’d expect, the more God would fade away from their hearts and minds.”
So Sandage’s seat among the doubters seemed a given.
Then the unexpected happened. Sandage set the room abuzz by turning and taking a chair among the theists. Even more dazzling, in the context of a talk about the big bang and its philosophical implications, he disclosed publicly that he had become a Christian at age fifty. The big bang, he told the rapt audience, was a supernatural event that cannot be explained within the realm of physics as we know it.
Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel is the former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune and best-selling author of more than twenty books. His classic, The Case for Christ, is a perennial favorite which details his conversion to Christianity. His recent release, The Case for Grace, just won the 2016 Nonfiction Book of the Year from the EPCA. For the last twenty-five years, his life’s work has been to share the evidence that supports the truth and claims of Christianity and to equip believers to share their faith with the people they know and love.
Lee earned his Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri and his Master of Studies in Law at Yale Law School. He was a journalist for fourteen years at The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois' highest honor for public service journalism from United Press International. He also led a team that won UPI's top award for investigative reporting in Illinois.
Lee has been a featured guest on national networks including ABC, Fox, Discovery, PBS, and CNN. He was the host of Faith Under Fire, a provocative program that brought together some of the brightest Christians and skeptics to debate issues central to the Christian faith. He also appeared in the feature film, God's Not Dead 2, as an expert witness for the defense. In 2017 Pure Flix Entertainment will release a major motion picture depicting Lee's journey from atheism to faith. You can learn more about the film, watch the trailer, and subscribe for updates at thecaseforchristmovie.com.
As part of his speaking ministry, Lee travels across the country (and sometimes the world) sharing his testimony, encouraging believers, and challenging skeptics. He regularly speaks at conferences, commencements, fundraisers, and other major events.
Lee is currently a teaching pastor at Woodlands Church in Texas where he speaks multiple times each year. He recently joined the faculty at Houston Baptist University as a Professor of Christian Thought.
Lee and his wife, Leslie, have been married for over 40 years and live in Texas. Their daughter, Alison, is the author of six inspirational women's fiction novels and co-author (with her husband, Daniel) of two books for children. After teaching for six years, she now homeschools her daughters. Their son, Kyle, having earned a PhD in Theology from the University of Aberdeen and two Master's degrees, is an accomplished author, Jonathan Edwards scholar, and Professor of Spiritual Theology at Talbot School of Theology at BIOLA University in Southern California where he lives with his wife and two children.
Lee Strobel Books:
- 1 The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity (Case for ... Series)
- 2 The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus (Case for ... Series)
- 3 The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God
- 4 The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives
- 5 The Case for Christianity Answer Book
- 6 The Ambition: A Novel
- 7 The Case for Christ Study Guide Revised Edition: Investigating the Evidence for Jesus
- 8 The Case for Hope: Looking Ahead With Confidence and Courage
- 9 God's Outrageous Claims: Thirteen Discoveries That Can Transform Your Life
- 10 Case for Christ for Kids (Case for... Series for Kids)
- 11 In Defense of Jesus: Investigating Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Case for ... Series)
- 12 The Case for the Real Jesus: A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ (Case for ... Series)
- 13 Finding the Real Jesus: A Guide for Curious Christians and Skeptical Seekers
- 14 The Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection (Case for ... Series)
The Coming of the Kingdom part 6
By Dr. Andrew Woods 6/11/2012
Because today's evangelical world believes that the church is experiencing the messianic kingdom, we began a study chronicling what the Bible teaches about the kingdom. This earthly kingdom is anticipated in the office of Theocratic Administrator that was lost in Eden, in the biblical covenants, in the predictions of the Old Testament prophets, and in the earthly theocracy governing Israel from the time of Moses to Zedekiah. This theocratic arrangement covered most of Old Testament history as God governed Israel indirectly through various intermediaries until the Babylonian Captivity ended the Theocracy. Such termination initiated the "Times of the Gentiles" ( Luke 21:24; Rev. 11:2 ) when the nation had no king reigning on David’s Throne as Judah was trampled by various Gentile powers.
Against that backdrop entered Jesus Christ, the rightful Heir to David's Throne. It was incumbent upon first-century Israel to enthrone Christ in order to enter into all of her covenantal blessings ( Deut. 17:15 ). The opportunity for first-century Israel to enthrone Christ thereby bringing in the kingdom is known as "the offer of the kingdom." This idea is captured in the expression "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" as proclaimed to the nation by John ( Matt. 3:1-2), Christ ( Matt. 4:17 ), the Twelve ( Matt. 10:5-7 ), and the Seventy ( Luke 10:1, 9). That this offer was a unique opportunity only for first-century Israel is apparent in Christ's instructions regarding how the offer should be presented. In Matthew 10:5-7, He instructed the twelve:
"Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"
Such a national limitation on the offer of the kingdom conveys that it was only for first-century Israel. Had first-century Israel enthroned Christ, the earthly kingdom would have become a reality for the nation and the entire world. Israel's covenants would have been fulfilled, and the Times of the Gentiles would have terminated. Despite the unprecedented opportunity for the establishment of the messianic kingdom due to the presence of the rightful king among the first-century Jews, Israel rejected the kingdom offer ( Matt. 12:24 ) leading to the kingdom's postponement.
Jesus' Olivet Discourse | Kingdom Postponement
The unique opportunity for Israel to accept the kingdom offer will not re-emerge until the offer is re-extended to future Israel in the events of the Tribulation period ( Matt. 24:14; Jer. 30:7 ). In the Olivet Discourse ( Matt. 24-25 ), Christ explains the future circumstances by which Israel will accept the offer of the kingdom. Matthew’s emphasis upon Israel’s restoration in the Olivet Discourse grows out of the final verses of the previous chapter ( 23:37-39 ). There, Christ expressed His desire to gather (episynago) Israel. Unfortunately, Israel rejected the kingdom offer at His First Advent. Christ then promises that the time would come when the nation would acknowledge Him as the Messiah by chanting a messianic Psalm ( Ps. 118:26; Matt. 21:9 ) thus allowing Christ to return, re-gather (episynago) Israel ( 24:31 ), and reign from David's Throne ( Matt 25:31 ). Thus, Matt. 23:39 furnishes the condition through which Israel’s final regathering will be achieved. Until this condition of Israel's acceptance of her Messiah has been satisfied, the kingdom cannot come to the earth. The entire Gentile world could become Christian. Yet, if tiny Israel remains in unbelief, the kingdom cannot materialize. Conversely, the entire Gentile world could reject Christ. Yet, if Israel fulfills the condition stated in Matthew 23:37-39 by accepting Jesus as the Messiah, the kingdom will materialize upon the earth. Because the Olivet Discourse and related passages teach that the condition of Jewish national acceptance of the Messiah will not be satisfied until the events surrounding the future Tribulation period have occurred, the kingdom will remain in a state of postponement until that time.
This notion of the postponement of the kingdom due to national Israel's rejection of Christ distinguishes the premillennial, dispensational viewpoint from that of Judaism and Reformed Theology. Judaism rejects Jesus as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah since He failed to bring in the kingdom promises. A Jewish unbeliever will typically argue that Jesus was not the Messiah since Shalom or world peace and kingdom conditions ( Isa. 2:4 ) are not a present earthly reality. Reformed Theology claims Christ succeeded in bringing in the kingdom since the kingdom promises are now being fulfilled in a spiritual sense. However, this approach ends up radically allegorizing Israel's terrestrial promises so that they find their spiritual realization in the present Church Age. The dispensational premillennialist understands that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. However, the kingdom is not a present reality since first-century Israel never satisfied the condition of faith in Christ. Until this future national conversion transpires during the Tribulation, the kingdom remains in a state of postponement rather than in a state of present fulfillment.
Due to Israel's rejection of the kingdom offer resulting in the messianic kingdom's postponement, Christ began to explain the spiritual conditions that would prevail during the kingdom's absence. This interim program includes His revelation of the kingdom mysteries ( Matt. 13 ) and the church ( Matt. 16:18 ). Before describing these spiritual realities, some preliminary remarks must be made about this new interim age. First, as noted in the previous installment, the fact that God knew that Israel would reject the kingdom offer thereby ushering in His eternal purpose for the interim age in no way implies that the offer to national Israel was not a genuine or bona fide offer.
Second, this interim age is intimately linked to the word "mystery" ( Matt. 13:11; Eph. 3:9 ). "Mystery" simply means a previously unknown truth now disclosed. Vine explains,
“In the N.T, it [mysterion] denotes, not the mysterious (as with the Eng. word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by Divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, and to those who are illumined by His Spirit.” 
In other words, both the kingdom mysteries and church are unrevealed in the Old Testament.
Third, rather than being the product of Christ's Davidic kingly rule, the work of God in the present age is the result of Christ's present session as High Priest at the Father's right hand. Because Israel rejected the offer of the kingdom, Christ never inherited the prophesied Messianic kingdom nor took His seat on David's Throne at His First Advent. These realities await His Second Advent. Following Christ's rejection by Israel, He ascended to heaven to His Father's Throne ( Rev. 3:21; 12:5b ) where He pursues His ministry known as His "Present Session." During this time, He functions as high priest ( Heb. 7:3b ). Even in His present ministry, Christ retains His identity as the unique Davidic Heir ( Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16 ) who will one day occupy the earthly Davidic Throne in fulfillment of God's promise to David in 2 Sam. 7:13-16. It is from His glorious heavenly position ( John 17:5 ), rather than from David's Throne, that He orchestrates His present work in the world. Thus, the present age remains an era unrelated to the prophesied Messianic kingdom ( Luke 19:11-27 ). In other words, the kingdom mysteries and church age represent neither a fulfillment or even a partial fulfillment of what prior Scripture predicts concerning the Davidic kingdom. This distinction has long been noted by Bible scholars. Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, summarizes:
Similarly, the earthly kingdom that according to the Scriptures had its origin in the covenant made to David, which is mundane and literal in its original form and equally as mundane and literal in uncounted references to it in all subsequent Scriptures which trace it on to its consummation, is by theological legerdemain metamorphosed into a spiritual monstrosity in which an absent King seated on His Father's throne in heaven is accepted in lieu of the theocratic monarch of David's line seated on David's throne in Jerusalem. 
Fourth, the notion that the present, interim age came about as a consequence of Israel's rejection of the kingdom offer in no way implies that it is an afterthought or less important in God's mind in comparison to His program with national Israel. On the contrary, according to Ephesians 3:11, the church was "in accordance" with God's "eternal purpose." In other words, God always knew and purposed that He would create and work through the church. Although Israel's program is revealed in the Old Testament, the church's program is unrevealed. However, this distinction does not mean that God's unrevealed program for the church is of less importance than His revealed program for Israel. Furthermore, although the church represents an interruption or parenthesis between God's past and future dealings with Israel, this in no way implies that the church is of lesser importance than God’s past or future dealings with national Israel. The dictionary definition of a parenthesis simply conveys the idea of an interval rather than something of less importance. Thus, understanding the church as a parenthetical break in this manner in no way suggests that the church represents “plan B” in relation to God’s purposes for Israel. Theologian Thomas Ice well summarizes:
In almost 35 years since I have become a dispensationalist, I have never heard nor read of a dispensationalist teaching a plan B scenario. Yet opponents often present this straw man in their statement of what we supposedly believe. We believe that God’s single plan has always included the Church, but He did not reveal the church age part of the plan in the Old Testament...Paul states specifically that the church age “was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (verse 11). This is why dispensationalists have never taught the so-called plan A and plan B theory that critics suppose we hold. Dispensationalists have always taught that there is a single plan carried out in stages. Continue Reading (Part 7 on Aug 28 web page)
ENDNOTES W. E. Vine, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words (Nashville: Nelson, 1996), 424.
 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, (Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1948), 5:315.
 Thomas Ice, "The Uniqueness of the Church," Pre-Trib Perspectives 8, no. 6 (September 2003): 4.
Dr. Andrew Woods Books
Note I copied this article from The Bible Prophecy Blog.
Dr. Andrew Woods Ministry Page, YouTube Channel, and Church.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 93The LORD Reigns
The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the LORD on high is mighty!
5 Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, forevermore.
The Continual Burnt Offering (Acts 2:39)
By H.A. Ironside - 1941
August 27Acts 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” ESV
It is a recognized principle, running through all dispensations, that God desires to save the households of His people. Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his house (Hebrews 11:7), and God said to him, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). Of Abraham the Lord declared, “I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19). David said, “You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come” (2 Samuel 7:19). The promise to the Philippian jailer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
Genesis 7:1 Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.
Genesis 18:19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
2 Samuel 7:19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD!
Acts 16:31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ESV
O Thou who gave them, guard them—those wayward little feet,
The wilderness before them, the ills of life to meet.
My mother-love is helpless, I trust them to Thy care!
Beneath the blood-stained lintel, oh, keep me ever there?
The faith I rest upon Thee Thou wilt not disappoint;
With wisdom, Lord, to train them my shrinking heart anoint.
Without my children, Father, I cannot see Thy face;
I plead the blood-stained lintel, Thy covenant of grace.
Oh, wonderful Redeemer, who suffered for our sake,
When o’er the guilty nations the judgment-storm shall break,
With joy from that safe shelter may we then meet Thine eye,
Beneath the blood-stained lintel, my children, Lord, and I.
Biblical Passages with the Word Apologia
By Josh McDowell and Sean McDowellThe New Testament uses the Greek word apologia, often translated in English as “defense,” eight times in the New Testament.
Acts 22:1: “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”
Acts 25:16: “I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him.”
1 Corinthians 9:3: “This is my defense to those who would examine me.”
2 Corinthians 7:11: “For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves [apologia], what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
Philippians 1:7: “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”
Philippians 1:16: “The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.”
1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
2 Timothy 4:16: “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!” ESV
First Peter 3:15 uses the word defense in a way that denotes the kind of defense one would make to a legal inquiry, asking, “Why are you a Christian?” A believer ought to give an adequate answer to this question. The command to be ready with an answer is directed toward every follower of Jesus—not just pastors, teachers, and leaders.
There are instances in many other passages when, even though the word apologia may not appear, the Bible either models or explicitly emphasizes the importance of apologetics. Consider a few: 2 Corinthians 10:5; Jude 3; Acts 2:22–24; 18:4; Titus 1:9; Job 38:1–41; Luke 24:44.
Jesus the ApologistExcept for 1 Peter 3:15, the New Testament appearances of apologia all come from the writing or ministry of Paul. But was Jesus an apologist? Though the New Testament does not mention Jesus using the word apologia, we nevertheless hold that he was, indeed, an apologist. Philosopher Douglas Groothuis has carefully studied the question of whether Jesus was a philosopher or an apologist. After giving many examples of how Jesus rationally defended the crucial claims of Christianity, Groothuis concludes:
Contrary to the views of critics, Jesus Christ was a brilliant thinker, who used logical arguments to refute His critics and establish the truth of His views. When Jesus praised the faith of children, He was encouraging humility as a virtue, not irrational religious trust or a blind leap of faith in the dark. Jesus deftly employed a variety of reasoning strategies in His debates on various topics. These include escaping the horns of a dilemma, a fortiori arguments, appeals to evidence, and reductio ad absurdum arguments. Jesus’ use of persuasive arguments demonstrates that He was both a philosopher and an apologist who rationally defended His worldview in discussions with some of the best thinkers of His day. This intellectual approach does not detract from His divine authority but enhances it. Jesus’ high estimation of rationality and His own application of arguments indicates [sic] that Christianity is not an anti-intellectual faith. Followers of Jesus today, therefore, should emulate His intellectual zeal, using the same kinds or arguments He Himself used. Jesus’ argumentative strategies have applications to four contemporary debates: the relationship between God and morality, the reliability of the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus, and ethical relativism. (Groothuis, “Jesus: Philosopher and Apologist,” Christian Research Journal 25, no. 2 (2002): http://www.equip.org/article/jesus-philosopher-and-apologist/.)
Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
by Bill Federer
August 27, 1776, British General Howe had trapped 8,000 American troops on Brooklyn Heights, intending to crush them the next Morning. Desperate, Washington spent all night ferrying his army across the East River. Morning came yet half his troops were still in danger. Surprisingly a fog arose, allowing the entire army to evacuated! Never again could the British trap Washington. Major Ben Tallmadge wrote: “As the dawn… approached, those of us who remained in the trenches became very anxious for our own safety… At this time a very dense fog began to rise… I recollect this peculiar providential occurrence perfectly well.”
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
What doubt can you have of the Creator when you behold His creation?...
Who has decked the heavenly firmament with its stars?
Who has clothed the earth in its beauty?
How could it be without the creator?
--- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
In the law of God,
there is no statute of limitations.
--- Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
God sometimes shuts the door and shuts us in,
That He may speak, perchance through grief or pain;
And softly, heart to heart, above the din
May teach some precious truth to us again.
Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.
--- Malcolm Muggeridge
We must alter our lives in order to alter our hearts, for it is impossible to live one way and pray another.
--- William Law
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
Containing The Interval Of About One Year. From The Siege Of Gamala To The Coming Of Titus To Besiege Jerusalem.
The Siege And Taking Of Gamala.
1. Now all those Galileans who, after the taking of Jotapata, had revolted from the Romans, did, upon the conquest of Taricheae, deliver themselves up to them again. And the Romans received all the fortresses and the cities, excepting Gischala and those that had seized upon Mount Tabor; Gamala also, which is a city ever against Taricheae, but on the other side of the lake, conspired with them. This city lay upon the borders of Agrippa's kingdom, as also did Sogana and Seleucia. And these were both parts of Gaulanitis; for Sogana was a part of that called the Upper Gaulanitis, as was Gamala of the Lower; while Seleucia was situated at the lake Semechouitis, which lake is thirty furlongs in breadth, and sixty in length; its marshes reach as far as the place Daphne, which in other respects is a delicious place, and hath such fountains as supply water to what is called Little Jordan, under the temple of the golden calf, 1 where it is sent into Great Jordan. Now Agrippa had united Sogana and Seleucia by leagues to himself, at the very beginning of the revolt from the Romans; yet did not Gamala accede to them, but relied upon the difficulty of the place, which was greater than that of Jotapata, for it was situated upon a rough ridge of a high mountain, with a kind of neck in the middle: where it begins to ascend, it lengthens itself, and declines as much downward before as behind, insomuch that it is like a camel in figure, from whence it is so named, although the people of the country do not pronounce it accurately. Both on the side and the face there are abrupt parts divided from the rest, and ending in vast deep valleys; yet are the parts behind, where they are joined to the mountain, somewhat easier of ascent than the other; but then the people belonging to the place have cut an oblique ditch there, and made that hard to be ascended also. On its acclivity, which is straight, houses are built, and those very thick and close to one another. The city also hangs so strangely, that it looks as if it would fall down upon itself, so sharp is it at the top. It is exposed to the south, and its southern mount, which reaches to an immense height, was in the nature of a citadel to the city; and above that was a precipice, not walled about, but extending itself to an immense depth. There was also a spring of water within the wall, at the utmost limits of the city.
2. As this city was naturally hard to be taken, so had Josephus, by building a wall about it, made it still stronger, as also by ditches and mines under ground. The people that were in it were made more bold by the nature of the place than the people of Jotapata had been, but it had much fewer fighting men in it; and they had such a confidence in the situation of the place, that they thought the enemy could not be too many for them; for the city had been filled with those that had fled to it for safety, on account of its strength; on which account they had been able to resist those whom Agrippa sent to besiege it for seven months together.
3. But Vespasian removed from Emmaus, where he had last pitched his camp before the city Tiberias, [now Emmaus, if it be interpreted, may be rendered "a warm bath," for therein is a spring of warm water, useful for healing,] and came to Gamala; yet was its situation such that he was not able to encompass it all round with soldiers to watch it; but where the places were practicable, he set men to watch it, and seized upon the mountain which was over it. And as the legions, according to their usual custom, were fortifying their camp upon that mountain, he began to cast up banks at the bottom, at the part towards the east, where the highest tower of the whole city was, and where the fifteenth legion pitched their camp; while the fifth legion did duty over against the midst of the city, and whilst the tenth legion filled up the ditches and the valleys. Now at this time it was that as king Agrippa was come nigh the walls, and was endeavoring to speak to those that were on the walls about a surrender, he was hit with a stone on his right elbow by one of the slingers; he was then immediately surrounded with his own men. But the Romans were excited to set about the siege, by their indignation on the king's account, and by their fear on their own account, as concluding that those men would omit no kinds of barbarity against foreigners and enemies, who where so enraged against one of their own nation, and one that advised them to nothing but what was for their own advantage.
4. Now when the banks were finished, which was done on the sudden, both by the multitude of hands, and by their being accustomed to such work, they brought the machines; but Chares and Joseph, who were the most potent men in the city, set their armed men in order, though already in a fright, because they did not suppose that the city could hold out long, since they had not a sufficient quantity either of water, or of other necessaries. However, these their leaders encouraged them, and brought them out upon the wall, and for a while indeed they drove away those that were bringing the machines; but when those machines threw darts and stones at them, they retired into the city; then did the Romans bring battering rams to three several places, and made the wall shake [and fall]. They then poured in over the parts of the wall that were thrown down, with a mighty sound of trumpets and noise of armor, and with a shout of the soldiers, and brake in by force upon those that were in the city; but these men fell upon the Romans for some time, at their first entrance, and prevented their going any further, and with great courage beat them back; and the Romans were so overpowered by the greater multitude of the people, who beat them on every side, that they were obliged to run into the upper parts of the city. Whereupon the people turned about, and fell upon their enemies, who had attacked them, and thrust them down to the lower parts, and as they were distressed by the narrowness and difficulty of the place, slew them; and as these Romans could neither beat those back that were above them, nor escape the force of their own men that were forcing their way forward, they were compelled to fly into their enemies' houses, which were low; but these houses being thus full, of soldiers, whose weight they could not bear, fell down suddenly; and when one house fell, it shook down a great many of those that were under it, as did those do to such as were under them. By this means a vast number of the Romans perished; for they were so terribly distressed, that although they saw the houses subsiding, they were compelled to leap upon the tops of them; so that a great many were ground to powder by these ruins, and a great many of those that got from under them lost some of their limbs, but still a greater number were suffocated by the dust that arose from those ruins. The people of Gamala supposed this to be an assistance afforded them by God, and without regarding what damage they suffered themselves, they pressed forward, and thrust the enemy upon the tops of their houses; and when they stumbled in the sharp and narrow streets, and were perpetually falling down, they threw their stones or darts at them, and slew them. Now the very ruins afforded them stones enow; and for iron weapons, the dead men of the enemies' side afforded them what they wanted; for drawing the swords of those that were dead, they made use of them to despatch such as were only half dead; nay, there were a great number who, upon their falling down from the tops of the houses, stabbed themselves, and died after that manner; nor indeed was it easy for those that were beaten back to fly away; for they were so unacquainted with the ways, and the dust was so thick, that they wandered about without knowing one another, and fell down dead among the crowd.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
by D.H. Stern
and don’t despise your mother when she gets old.
23 Buy the truth, don’t sell it,
also wisdom, discipline and discernment.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you. --- John 12:35.
Beware of not acting upon what you see in your moments on the mount with God. If you do not obey the light, it will turn into darkness. “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” The second you waive the question of sanctification or any other thing upon which God gave you light, you begin to get dry rot in your spiritual life. Continually bring the truth out into actuality; work it out in every domain, or the very light you have will prove a curse.
The most difficult person to deal with is the one who has the smug satisfaction of an experience to which he can refer back, but who is not working it out in practical life. If you say you are sanctified, show it. The experience must be so genuine that it is shown in the life. Beware of any belief that makes you self-indulgent; it came from the pit, no matter how beautiful it sounds.
Theology must work itself out in the most practical relationships. “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, …” said Our Lord, i.e., you must be more moral than the most moral being you know. You may know all about the doctrine of sanctification, but are you running it out into the practical issues of your life? Every bit of our life, physical, moral and spiritual, is to be judged by the standard of the Atonement.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
Soil (Song At The Year's Turning)
A field with tall hedges and a young
Moon in the branches and one star
Declining westward set the scene
Where he works slowly astride the rows
Of red mangolds and green swedes
Plying mechanically his cold blade.
This is his world, the hedge defines
The mind's limits; only the sky
Is boundless, and never looks up;
His gaze is deep in the dark soil,
As are his feet. The soil is all;
His hands fondle it, and his bones
Are formed out of it with the swedes.
And if sometimes the knife errs,
Burying itself in is shocked flesh,
Then out of the wound the blood seeps home
To the warm soil from which it came.
BIBLE TEXT / Leviticus 10:8–10 / And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: Drink no wine or other intoxicant, you or your sons, when you enter the Tent of Meeting, that you may not die. This is a law for all time throughout the ages, for you must distinguish between the sacred and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean.…
MIDRASH TEXT / Tanḥuma Shemini 5 / “[Do not look at the wine, that it is so red] for he sets his eye on the cup, בַּכּוֹס/ba-kos” [Proverbs 23:31, authors’ translation]. On the pocket, בַּכִּיס/ba-kis, is the ketiv. The drunk sets his eye on the cup while the storekeeper sets his eye on the pocket. For he sets his eye on the cup: He sees his friend drinking, and he says to him, “Pour for me and I will drink,” and he soils himself with excrement and urine.
“It goes down smoothly” [ibid.]. In the end he will sell all his household articles and all his personal articles until he has no clothing or any household articles, or anything else, and the house will be completely empty. “It goes down smoothly.” In the end, he permits transgressions and makes them as available as an open plain. He talks with a woman in the market, and speaks filth and says bad things in drunkenness and is not ashamed because his reasoning has been taken from him and he doesn’t know what he is saying or what he is doing.
CONTEXT / Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu, had entered the Tent of Meeting to present an offering of incense. God was displeased with their offering, apparently because it was done in an inappropriate way, and they were consumed by fire. The Torah is not clear exactly what they did wrong or why God chose to kill them. But a few verses later, we read the command given to Aaron and his remaining two sons that they are not to drink wine or liquor when they enter the Tent of Meeting. The Rabbis deduce that these two sections—the death of Nadab and Abihu and the command not to drink intoxicants in the sanctuary—are connected: it was because they were drunk that Aaron’s sons were killed.
Our Midrash goes on to recount the evils of drunkenness—not merely for those engaged in the service of God, but for everyone. A classical biblical passage on this subject is quoted (Proverbs 23:29–35), and each of its verses is expounded upon. “[Do not look at the wine, that it is so red] for he sets his eye on the cup, בַּכִּוֹם/ba-kos.” Our maxim is based upon a wordplay on two similar sounding Hebrew words: כּוֹם/kos, which means “cup,” and כּוֹם/kis, which means “pocket.” It is the biblical text itself (not merely the Rabbis) that suggests this pun. “On the pocket, בַּכִּים/ba-kis,” is the ketiv. There are numerous places in the Bible where, following tradition, a word is written one way but read another way. The written version is called כְּתִיב/ketiv (from the Hebrew word for “write”), while the traditional reading is referred to as קְרִי/keri (from the Hebrew root “read”). In certain cases, some suggest, a scribal error crept into the text long ago. Since we can’t be entirely certain why or when it happened, we are obligated to maintain the sanctity of the received version. Tradition has also preserved for us the appropriate reading of the word so that we can understand its proper meaning. Another, more traditional view of the ketiv and keri words is that, in this manner, the text is able to suggest (or explicitly say) two things simultaneously, instead of merely one. In our case, the ketiv or written version is כִּים/kis (pocket), while the keri, the to-be-read version, is כּוֹם/kos (cup). The Rabbis use both words to create a bit of folk wisdom that teaches us a lesson about the person who drinks and the person who sells the drinks.
There is one additional wordplay in our Midrash. The verse in Proverbs (23:31) says יִתְהַלֵּךְ בְּמֵישָׁרִים/yit-ha-lekh b’mei-sharim, which means “It, the wine, goes down smoothly.” But the Rabbis connect the word מֵישָׁרִים/mei-sharim, “smoothly,” to the word מֵישׁוֹר/mei-shor, a “plain” or open stretch of barren land, devoid of living things. This pun enables the Rabbis to highlight the effects of drunkenness: It will cause a person to lose everything of value and end up empty and barren. In the end he will sell all his household articles and all his personal articles until he has no clothing or any household articles, or anything else, and the house will be completely empty.
God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
--- Acts 17:27.
Saint Paul is preaching on Mars Hill to the Athenians.
(Phillips Brooks, “The Nearness of God,” downloaded from the Web site The Unofficial Episcopal Preaching Resource Page, at www.edola.org/clergy/episcopalpreaching.html, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) We hear a great deal about the tact of that discourse. The power of his tact was really love. He felt for those people, so he said to them what they needed. Never were people on the brink of so many of the highest things—and missed them—as these Athenians. They felt all the mystery of life. They built their altar to the unknown god. They were always on the brink of faith, without believing; always touched by spirituality, yet with their feet set on the material and carnal.
Two views [could] be taken by one who looked on their darkness. Easy enough it is to be contemptuous; to condemn as frivolous this life that walked on the brink of earnestness and yet was never earnest. But it is possible to be impressed with reverence and pity that left no room for contempt, reverence for the people who came so near to so much and pity for the people who missed it so sadly. The second thought is the thought of the best and wisest and divinest—the thought of Saint Paul and of Jesus Christ.
What makes the difference between these two views? People who look on others’ puzzled lives with reverence and pity see God there behind the lives they are looking at. People who look at others’ restless lives with contempt see no God there, but [only] vain and aimless dissatisfaction. If there is no God, whose life and presence, dimly felt, is making people toss and complain, then their tossing and complaining is a contemptible thing. If there is a God to whom they belong, whom they feel through the thinnest of veils, whom they feel even when they do not know that it is he whom they feel—then their restlessness, their hope, their dreams and doubts become solemn and significant.
And this is just what Saint Paul tells the Athenians. He says, “You are restless and discontented. Your restlessness, your impatience, your discontent, however petty the forms it takes, is solemn and not petty to me, because of what it means. It means that God is not far from every one of you.”
Oh, what a revelation that was! What a preaching that was that day on Mars Hill!
The Prayer Chain August 27
In 1722 Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, troubled by the suffering of Christian exiles from Bohemia and Moravia, allowed them to establish a community on his estate in Germany. The center became known as Herrnhut, meaning “Under the Lord’s Watch.” It grew quickly, and so did its appreciation for the power of prayer.
On August 27, 1727 24 men and 24 women covenanted to spend an hour each day in scheduled prayer, praying in sequence around the clock. Soon others joined the prayer chain. Days passed, then months. Unceasing prayer rose to God 24 hours a day as someone—at least one—was engaged in intercessory prayer each hour of every day. The intercessors met weekly for encouragement and to read letters and messages from their brothers in different places. A decade passed, the prayer chain continuing nonstop. Then another decade. It was a prayer meeting that lasted over 100 years.
Undoubtedly this prayer chain helped birth Protestant missions. Zinzendorf, 27, suggested the possibility of attempting to reach others for Christ in the West Indies, Greenland, Turkey, and Lapland. Twenty-six Moravians stepped forward. The first missionaries, Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann, were commissioned during an unforgettable service on August 18, 1732, during which 100 hymns were sung. During the first two years, 22 missionaries perished and two more were imprisoned, but others took their places. In all 70 Moravian missionaries flowed from the 600 inhabitants of Herrnhut, a feat unparalleled in missionary history.
By the time William Carey became the “Father of Modern Missions” over 300 Moravian missionaries had already gone to the ends of the earth. And that’s not all. The Moravian fervor sparked the conversions of John and Charles Wesley and indirectly ignited the Great Awakening that swept through Europe and America.
The prayer meeting lasted 100 years. The results will last for eternity.
Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up. Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night?
… He will surely hurry and help them. --- Luke 18:1,7,8a.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - August 27
“How long will it be ere they believe me?”
--- Numbers 14:11.
Strive with all diligence to keep out that monster unbelief. It so dishonours Christ, that he will withdraw his visible presence if we insult him by indulging it. It is true it is a weed, the seeds of which we an never entirely extract from the soil, but we must aim at its root with zeal and perseverance. Among hateful things it is the most to be abhorred. Its injurious nature is so venomous that he that exerciseth it and he upon whom it is exercised are both hurt thereby. In thy case, O believer! it is most wicked, for the mercies of thy Lord in the past, increase thy guilt in doubting him now. When thou dost distrust the Lord Jesus, he may well cry out, “Behold I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.” This is crowning his head with thorns of the sharpest kind. It is very cruel for a well-beloved wife to mistrust a kind and faithful husband. The sin is needless, foolish, and unwarranted. Jesus has never given the slightest ground for suspicion, and it is hard to be doubted by those to whom our conduct is uniformly affectionate and true. Jesus is the Son of the Highest, and has unbounded wealth; it is shameful to doubt Omnipotence and distrust all-sufficiency. The cattle on a thousand hills will suffice for our most hungry feeding, and the granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating. If Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust his fulness, but who can drain a fountain? Myriads of spirits have drawn their supplies from him, and not one of them has murmured at the scantiness of his resources. Away, then, with this lying traitor unbelief, for his only errand is to cut the bonds of communion and make us mourn an absent Saviour. Bunyan tells us that unbelief has “as many lives as a cat:” if so, let us kill one life now, and continue the work till the whole nine are gone. Down with thee, thou traitor, my heart abhors thee.
Evening - August 27
“Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” --- Psalm 31:5.
These words have been frequently used by holy men in their hour of departure. We may profitably consider them this Evening. The object of the faithful man’s solicitude in life and death is not his body or his estate, but his spirit; this is his choice treasure—if this be safe, all is well. What is this mortal state compared with the soul? The believer commits his soul to the hand of his God; it came from him, it is his own, he has aforetime sustained it, he is able to keep it, and it is most fit that he should receive it. All things are safe in Jehovah’s hands; what we entrust to the Lord will be secure, both now and in that day of days towards which we are hastening. It is peaceful living, and glorious dying, to repose in the care of heaven. At all times we should commit our all to Jesus’ faithful hand; then, though life may hang on a thread, and adversities may multiply as the sands of the sea, our soul shall dwell at ease, and delight itself in quiet resting places.
“Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Redemption is a solid basis for confidence. David had not known Calvary as we have done, but temporal redemption cheered him; and shall not eternal redemption yet more sweetly console us? Past deliverances are strong pleas for present assistance. What the Lord has done he will do again, for he changes not. He is faithful to his promises, and gracious to his saints; he will not turn away from his people.
“Though thou slay me I will trust,
Praise thee even from the dust,
Prove, and tell it as I prove,
Thine unutterable love.
Thou mayst chasten and correct,
But thou never canst neglect;
Since the ransom price is paid,
On thy love my hope is stay’d.”
LORD, I WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN
He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desire. 2 Peter 1:4)
A CHRISTIAN IS …
A mind through which Christ thinks;
A heart through which Christ loves;
A voice through which Christ speaks;
A hand through which Christ helps.
“Sir, I want to be a Christian.”
The text for this spiritual song is thought to have been an outgrowth of this remark made by a Negro slave to a minister, William Davis, sometime during the mid 18th century.
How would you have replied to this request? Many people today use the term Christian simply to mean someone other than a pagan, Buddhist, or Hindu. Or they equate it with a person who is a church member or perhaps someone who has a strong humanitarian concern for others.
The word Christian was first used with the people of Antioch because they believed the account of the Gospel by personally accepting God’s free gift of salvation and making Christ the Savior and Lord of their lives (Acts 11:26). They literally became CHRIST-ians—little Christs. After he has taken the initial step of salvation, a Christian should develop a growing desire to model the virtues of godly living. The Bible teaches that a Christian should make every effort to add to his faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5–7). Christians, then, are to be effective representatives for God in a corrupt world and a living demonstration of the transforming power of the Gospel.
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart.
Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart.
Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart.
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart.
For Today: Acts 4:12; 16:30, 31; Romans 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Colossians 3:9, 10; 2 Peter 1:5–10
Would you be able to explain the term Christian if someone should ask? Are you consciously trying to add Christ-like virtues to your faith? Pray that you will be a worthy representative and demonstration of the Gospel. Carry this spiritual with you to help ---
DISCOURSE III - ON GOD’S BEING A SPIRIT
JOHN 4:24. — God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. THE words are part of the dialogue between our Saviour and the Samaritan woman. Christ, intending to return from Judea to Galilee, passed through the country of Samaria, a place inhabited not by Jews, but a mixed company o£ several nations, and some remainders of the posterity of Israel, who escaped the captivity, and were returned from Assyria; and being weary with his journey, arrived about the sixth hour or noon (according to the Jews’ reckoning the time of the day), at a well that Jacob had digged, which was of great account among the inhabitants for the antiquity of it, as well as the usefulness of it, in supplying their necessities: he being thirsty, and having none to furnish him wherewith to draw water, at last comes a woman from the city, whom he desires to give him some water to drink. The woman, perceiving him by his language or habit to be a Jew, wonders at the question, since the hatred the Jews bore the Samaritans was so great, that they would not vouchsafe to have any commerce with them, not only in religious, but civil affairs, and common offices belonging to mankind. Hence our Saviour takes occasion to publish to her the doctrine of the gospel; and excuseth her rude answer by her ignorance of him; and tells her, that if she had asked him a greater matter, even that which concerned her eternal salvation, he would readily have granted it, notwithstanding the rooted hatred between the Jews and Samaritans; and bestowed a water of a greater virtue, the “water of life.” The woman is no less astonished at his reply than she was at his first demand. It was strange to hear a man speak of giving living water to one of whom he had begged the water of that spring, and had no vessel to draw any to quench his own thirst. She therefore demands whence he could have this water that he speaks of, since she conceived him not greater than Jacob, who had digged that well and drank of it. Our Saviour, desirous to make a progress in that work he had begun, extols the water he spake of, above this of the well, from its particular virtue fully to refresh those that drank of it, and be as a cooling and comforting fountain within them, of more efficacy than that without. The woman, conceiving a good opinion of our Saviour, desires to partake of this water, to save her pains in coming daily to the well, not apprehending the spirituality of Christ’s discourse to her: Christ finding her to take some pleasure in his discourse, partly to bring her to a sense of her sin, before he did communicate the excellenty of his grace, bids her return back to the city and bring her husband with her to him. She freely acknowledges that she had no husband; whether having some check of conscience at present for the unclean life she led, or loth to lose so much time in the gaining this water so much desired by her: our Saviour takes an occasion from this to lay open her sin before her, and to make her sensible of her own wicked life and the prophetic excellency of himself; and tells her she had had five husbands, to whom she had been false, and by whom she was divorced, and the person she now dwelt with was not her lawful husband, and in living with him she violated the rights of marriage, and increased guilt upon her conscience. The woman being affected with this discourse, and knowing him to be a stranger that could not be certified of those things but in an extraordinary way, begins to have a high esteem of him as a prophet. And upon this opinion she esteems him able to decide a question, which had been canvassed between them and the Jews, about the place of worship. Their fathers worshiping in that mountain, and the Jews affirming Jerusalem to be a pace of worship, she pleads the antiquity of the worship in this place, Abraham having built an altar there (Gen. 12:7), and Jacob, apon his return from Syria. And, surely, had the pace been capable of an exception, such persons as they, and so well acquainted with the will of God, would not have pitched upon that place to celebrate their worship.
Antiquity hath, too, too often bewitched the minds of men, and drawn them from the revealed will of God. Men are more willing to imitate the outward actions of their famous ancestors, than conform themselves to the revealed will of their Creator. The Samaritans would imitate the patriarchs in the place of worship, but not in the faith of the worshippers. Christ answers her, that this question would quickly be resolved by a new state of the church, which was near at hand; and neither Jerusalem, which had now the precedency, nor that mountain, should be of any more value in that concern, than any other place in the world: but yet, to make her sensible of her am and that of her countrymen, tells her, that their worship in that mountain was not according to the will of God, he having long after the altars built in this place, fixed Jerusalem as the place of sacrifices; besides, they had not the knowledge of that God which ought to be worshipped by them, but the Jews had the “true object of worship,” and the “true manner of worship, according to the declaration God had made of himself to them.” But all that service shall vanish, the veil of the temple shall be rent in twain, and that carnal worship give place to one more spiritual; shadows shall fly before substance, and truth advance itself above figures; and the worship of God shall be with the strength of the Spirit: such a worship, and such worshippers doth the Father seek; for “God is a Spirit: and those that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” The design of our Saviour is to declare, that God is not taken with external worship invented by men, no, nor commanded by himself; and that upon this reason, because he is a spiritual essence, infinitely above gross and corporeal matter, and is not taken with that pomp which is a pleasure to our earthly imaginations.
Πνεμα θε.ό ςSome translate it just as the words lie: “Spirit is God.” But it is not unusual, both in the Old and New Testament languages, to put the predicate before the subject, as Psalm 5:9, “Their throat is an open sepulchre;” in the Hebrew, “A sepulchre open their throat;” so Psalm 111:3, “His work is honorable and glorious;” Heb. “Honor and glory is his work;” and there wants not one example in the same evangelist (John 1:1), “And the Word was God;” Greek, “And God was the Word:” in all, the predicate, or what is ascribed, is put before the subject to which it is ascribed. One tells us, and he, a head of a party that hath made a disturbance in the church of God, that this place is not aptly brought to prove God to be a Spirit; and the reason of Christ runs not thus, — God is of a spiritual essence, and therefore must be worshipped with a spiritual worship; for the essence of God is not the foundation of his worship, but his will; for then we were not to worship him with a corporeal worship, because he is not a body; but with an invisible and eternal worship, because he is invisible and eternal. But the nature of God is the foundation of worship; the will of God is the rule of worship; the matter and manner is to be performed according to the will of God. But is the nature of the object of worship to be excluded? No; as the object is, so ought our devotion to be, spiritual as he is spiritual. God, in his commands for worship, respected the discovery of his own nature; in the law, he respected the discovery of his mercy and justice, and therefore commanded a worship by sacrifices; a spiritual worship without those institutions would not have declared. those attributes which was God’s end to display to the world in Christ; and though the nature of God is to be respected in worship, yet the obligations of the creature are to be considered. God is a Spirit, therefore must have a spiritual worship; the creature hath a body as well as a soul, and both from God; and therefore ought to worship God with the one as well as the other, since one as well as the other is freely bestowed upon him. The spirituality of God was the foundation of the change from the Judaical carnal worship to a more spiritual and evangelical.
God is a Spirit; that is, he hath nothing corporeal, no mixture of matter, not a visible substance, a bodily form. He is a Spirit, not a bare spiritual substance, but an understanding, willing Spirit, holy, wise, good, and just. Before, Christ spake of the Father, the first person in the Trinity; now he speaks of God essentially: the word Father is personal, the word God essential; so that our Saviour would render a reason, not from any one person in the blessed Trinity, but from the Divine nature, why we should worship in spirit, and therefore makes use of the word God, the being a Spirit being common to the other persons with the Father. This is the reason of the proposition (Ver. 23.), “Of a spiritual worship. ” Every nature delights in that which is like it, and distastes that which is most different from it. If God were corporeal, he might be pleased with the victims of beasts, and the beautiful magnificence of temples, and the noise of music; but being a Spirit, he cannot be gratified with carnal things; he demands something better and greater than all those,—that soul which he made, that soul which he hath endowed, a spirit of a frame suitable to his nature. He indeed appointed sacrifices, and a temple, as shadows of those things which were to be most acceptable to him in the Messiah, but they were imposed only “till the time of reformation.”
Must worship him; not they may, or it would be more agreeable to God to have such a manner of worship; but they must. It is not exclusive of bodily worship; for this were to exclude all public worship in societies, which cannot be performed without reverential postures of the body. The gestures of the body are helps to worship, and declarations of spiritual acts. We can scarcely worship God with our spirits without some tincture upon the outward man; but he excludes all acts inerely corporeal, all resting upon an external service and devotion, which was the crime of the Pharisees, and the general persuasion of the Jews as well as heathens, who used the outward ceremonies, not as signs of better things, but as if they did of themselves please God, and render the worshippers accepted with him, without any suitable frame of the inward man. It is as if he had said, Now you must separate yourselves from all carnal modes to which the service of God is now tied, and render a worship chiefly consisting in the affectionate motions of the heart, and accommodated more exactly to the condition of the object, who is a Spirit.
In spirit and truth. The evangelical service now required has the advantage of the former; that was a shadow and figure, this the body and truth. Spirit, say some, is here opposed to the legal ceremonies; truth, to hypocritical services; or, rather truth is opposed to shadows, and an opinion of worth in the outward action; it is principally opposed to external rites, because our Saviour saith (Ver. 23.): “The hour comes, and now is,” &c. Had it been opposed to hypocrisy, Christ had said no new thing; for God always required truth in the inward parts, and all true worshippers had served him with a sincere conscience and single heart. The old patriarchs did worship God in spirit and truth, as taken for sincerity; such a worship was always, and is perpetually due to God, because he always was, and eternally will be a Spirit. And it is said, “The Father seeks such to worahip him,” not, shall seek; he always sought it; it always was performed to him by one or other in the world: and the prophets had always rebuked them for resting upon their outward solemnities (Isa. 53:7, and Micah 6:8): but a worship without legal rites was proper to an evangelical state and the times of the gospel, God having then exhibited Christ, and brought into the world the substance of those shadows, and the end of those institutions; there was no more need to continue them when the true reason of them was ceased. All laws do naturally expire when the true reason upon which they were first framed is changed. Or by spirit may be meant, such a worship as is kindled in the heart by the breath of the Holy Ghost. Since we are dead in sin, a spiritual light and flame in the heart, suitable to the nature of the object of our worship, cannot be raised in us without the operation of a supernatural grace; and though the fathers could not worship God without the Spirit, yet in the gospel- times, there being a fuller effusion of the Spirit, the evangelical state is called, “the administration of the Spirit,” and “the newness of the Spirit,” in opposition to the legal economy, entitled the “oldness of the letter.” The evangelical state is more suited to the nature of God than any other; such a worship God must have, whereby he is acknowledged to be the true sanctifier and quickener of the soul. The nearer God doth approach to us, and the more full his manifestations are, the more spiritual is the worship we return to God. The gospel pares off the rugged parts of the law, and heaven shall remove what is material in the gospel, and change the ordinances of worship into that of a spiritual praise.
In the words there is: 1. A proposition, — “God is a Spirit;” the foundation of all religion. 2. An inference,—“They that worship him,” &c. As God, a worship belongs to him; as a Spirit, a spiritual worship is due to him: in the inference we have, 1. The manner of worship, “in spirit and truth;” 2. The necessity of such a worship, “must” The proposition declares the nature of God; the inference, the duty of man. The observations lie plain. Obs. 1. God is a pure spiritual being: “he is a Spirit.” 2. The worship due from the creature to God must be agreeable to the nature of God, and purely spiritual. 3. The evangelical state is suited to the nature of God.
I. For the first: “God is a pure spiritual being.” It is the observation of one, that the plain assertion of God’s being a Spirit is found but once in the whole Bible, and that is in this place; which may well be wondered at, because God is so often described with hands, feet, eyes, and ears, in the form and figure of a man. The spiritual nature of God is deducible from many places; but not anywhere, as I remember, asserted totidem verbis, but in this text: some allege that place (2 Cor. 3:17), “The Lord is that Spirit,” for the proof of it; but that seems to have a different sense: in the text, the nature of God is described; in that place, the operations of God in the gospel.
“It is not the ministry of Moses, or that old covenant, which communicates to you that Spirit it speaks of; but it is the Lord Jesus, and the doctrine of the gospel delivered by him, whereby this Spirit and liberty is dispensed to you; he opposes here the liberty of the gospel to the servitude of the law; it is from Christ that a divine virtue difuseth itself by the gospel; it is by him, not by the law, that we partake of that Spirit. The spirituality of God is as evident as his being. If we grant that God is, we must necessarily grant that, he cannot be corporeal, because a body is of an imperfect nature. It will appear incredible to any that acknowledge God the first Being and Creator of all things, that he should be a massy, heavy body, and have eyes and ears, feet and hands, as we have. — For the explication of it,
1. Spirit is taken various ways in Scripture. It signifies sometimes an aerial substance, as Psalm 11:6; a horrible tempest (Heb. a spirit of tempest); sometimes the breath, which is a thin substance (Gen. 6:17): “All flesh, wherein is the breath of life” (Heb. spirit of life). A thin substance, though it be material and corporeal, is called spirit; and in the bodies of living creatures, that which is the principle of their actions is called spirit, the animal and vital spirits. And the finer part extracted from plants and minerals we call spirit, those volatile parts separated from that gross matter wherein they were immersed, because they come nearest to the nature of an incorporeal substance; and from this notion of the word, it is translated to signify those substances that are purely immaterial, as angels and the souls of men. Angels are called spirit (Psalm 104:4) “Who makes his angels spint;” and not only good angels are so called, but evil angels (Mark 1:27); souls of men are called spirit (Eccles. 12.); and the soul of Christ is called so (John 19:30; whence God is called “the God of the spirit of all flesh” (Num. 22:16). And spirit is opposed to flesh (Isa. 31:3): “The Egyptians are flesh, and not spirit.” And our Saviour gives us the notion of a spirit to be something above the nature of a body (Luke 24:39), “not having flesh and bones,” extended parts, loads of gross matter. It is also taken for those things which are active and efficacious; because activity is of the nature of a spirit: Caleb had another spirit (Num. 14:24), an active affection. The vehement motions of sin are called spirit (Hos. 4:12): “the spirit of whoredoms,” in that sense that Prov. 29:11, “a fool utters all his mind,” all his spirit; he knows not how to restrain the vehement motions of his mind. So that the notion of a spirit is, that it is a fine, immaterial substance, an active being, that act itself and other things. A mere body cannot act itself; as the body of man cannot move without the soul, no more than a ship can move itself without wind and waves. So God is called a Spirit, as being not a body, not having the greatness, figure, thickness, or length of a body, wholly separate from anything of flesh and matter. We find a principle within us nobler than that of our bodies; and, therefore, we conceive the nature of God, according to that which is more worthy in us, and not according to that which is the vilest part of our natures. God is a most spiritual Spirit, more spiritual than all angels, all souls. As he exceeds all in the nature of being, so he exceeds all in the nature of spirit: he hath nothing gross, heavy, material, in his essence.
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. CXXXI. — After this, it enumerates a multitude of similitudes: by which, it effects nothing but the drawing aside the witless reader to irrelevant things, according to its custom, and at the same time leaves the subject point entirely out of the question. Thus, — “God indeed preserves the ship, but the mariner conducts it into harbour: wherefore, the mariner does not do nothing.” — This similitude makes a difference of work: that is, it attributes that of preserving to God, and that of conducting to the mariner. And thus, if it prove any thing, it proves this: — that the whole work of preserving is of God, and the whole work of conducting of the mariner. And yet, it is a beautiful and apt similitude.
Thus, again — “the husbandman gathers in the increase, but it was God that gave it.” — Here again, it attributes different operations to God and to man: unless it mean to make the husbandman the creator also, who gave the increase. But even supposing the same works be attributed to God and to man — what do these similitudes prove? Nothing more, than that the creature co-operates with the operating God! But are we now disputing about co-operation, and not rather concerning the power and operation of “Free-will,” as of itself! Whither therefore has the renowned rhetorician betaken himself? He set out with the professed design to dispute concerning a palm; whereas all his discourse has been about a gourd! ‘A noble vase was designed by the potter; why then is a pitcher produced at last?’
I also know very well, that Paul co-operates with God in teaching the Corinthians, while he preaches without, and God teaches within; and that, where their works are different. And that, in like manner, he co-operates with God while he speaks by the Spirit of God; and that, where the work is the same. For what I assert and contend for is this: — that God, where He operates without the grace of His Spirit, works all in all, even in the ungodly; while He alone moves, acts on, and carries along by the motion of His omnipotence, all those things which He alone has created, which motion those things can neither avoid nor change, but of necessity follow and obey, each one according to the measure of power given of God: — thus all things, even the ungodly, co-operate with God! On the other hand, when He acts by the Spirit of His grace on those whom He has justified, that is, in His own kingdom, He moves and carries them along in the same manner; and they, as they are the new creatures, follow and co-operate with Him; or rather, as Paul saith, are led by Him. (Rom. viii. 14, 30.)
But the present is not the place for discussing these points. We are not now considering, what we can do in co-operation with God, but what we can do of ourselves: that is, whether, created as we are out of nothing, we can do or attempt any thing of ourselves, under the general motion of God’s omnipotence, whereby to prepare ourselves unto the new Creation of the Spirit. — This is the point to which Erasmus ought to have answered, and not to have turned aside to a something else!
What I have to say upon this point is this: — As man, before he is created man, does nothing and endeavours nothing towards his being made a creature; and as, after he is made and created, he does nothing and endeavours nothing towards his preservation, or towards his continuing in his creature-existence, but each takes place alone by the will of the omnipotent power and goodness of God, creating us and preserving us, without ourselves; but as God, nevertheless, does not work in us without us, seeing we are for that purpose created and preserved, that He might work in us and that we might co-operate with Him, whether it be out of His kingdom under His general omnipotence, or in His kingdom under the peculiar power of His Spirit; — so, man, before he is regenerated into the new creation of the kingdom of the Spirit, does nothing and endeavours nothing towards his new creation into that kingdom, and after he is re-created does nothing and endeavours nothing towards his perseverance in that kingdom; but the Spirit alone effects both in us, regenerating us and preserving us when regenerated, without ourselves; as James saith, “Of His own will begat He us by the word of His power, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures,” — (Jas. i. 18) (where he speaks of the renewed creation:) nevertheless, He does not work in us without us, seeing that He has for this purpose created and preserved us, that He might operate in us, and that we might co-operate with Him: thus, by us He preaches, shews mercy to the poor, and comforts the afflicted. — But what is hereby attributed to “Free-will?” Nay, what is there left it but nothing at all? And in truth it is nothing at all!
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library